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According to an economic analysis conducted by the Home Office, deporting a migrant to a "safe country" like Rwanda could cost taxpayers approximately £169,000. The analysis reveals that it

costs £106,000 to accommodate and support each migrant in the UK, but suggests that the difference could be offset by the deterrent effect of the Rwanda deportation policy.

The impact assessment of the government's Illegal Migration Bill estimates that there would need to be a 37% decrease in the number of migrants crossing the English Channel for the scheme to break even and start saving taxpayer money. Failing to take action could result in the daily cost of housing migrants in hotels and other accommodations rising from the current £6 million to £32 million per day, amounting to £11 billion per year by 2026—equivalent to a 2p cut in income tax.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman emphasized that doing nothing is not an option, as the current system incentivizes people to risk their lives and pay human smugglers to enter the country illegally, while imposing an unacceptable burden on UK taxpayers.

The analysis was published in conjunction with the announcement that the Court of Appeal would rule on the legality of the Rwanda scheme, potentially paving the way for the first deportation flights as early as September.

Under the Illegal Migration Bill, nearly all migrants arriving in the UK illegally will be detained and deported to a third safe country, such as Rwanda, or to their home country. They will only have the opportunity to challenge the decision or claim asylum after being removed from the UK.

The report estimates that if all 11,000 Channel arrivals this year were deported, it would cost £1.8 billion. Last year, a record 45,755 people crossed the Channel, but this year's total is currently about 7% lower than last year. However, internal Home Office estimates suggest that the number of crossings in 2023 could reach as high as 80,000.

The £169,000 deportation costs per migrant include the payment to Rwanda, with the UK having already provided £140 million to the country, as well as Home Office administration, flights, escort, and detention expenses.

The cost of processing a migrant in the UK amounts to £106,000, which includes accommodation costs of £85 per night and support for an estimated four years during the processing of their asylum claim and appeals.

The analysis warns that if current trends continue, the average cost per night to house and support a migrant in a hotel or other accommodation would rise to £126 in 2024, £152 in 2025, and £178 in 2026.

Without finding alternatives to hotels or expediting the processing of the asylum backlog, the report predicts that the number of individuals housed and receiving state support would increase from the current 114,000 to 185,000 by 2026, with an overall daily cost of £32 million.

While ministers believe that the deterrent effect, based on successful policies in Australia, will reduce the number of crossings, the analysis acknowledges the uncertainty surrounding the level of deterrence impact the Bill will have as it is a novel and untested scheme.

Additionally, estimating the "cost savings" from relocating migrants to safe third countries, like Rwanda, is deemed highly uncertain. The Home Office analysts had to base their calculations on a "proxy" for the Syrian refugee scheme due to the commercial confidentiality of the Rwanda scheme. Photo by SteveRwanda, Wikimedia commons.